When and where soldiers on special leave have to report back to their employer, the SA National Defence Force (SANDF), is “an issue between the force and each and every member”.
This was the response to a defenceWeb enquiry two weeks after SANDF Chief, General Solly Shoke, told the nation in a nationally televised media conference that “the defence force is uncomfortable with continuing to pay members who are simply sitting at their homes”.
He was referring to the 507 soldiers still on so-called special leave following the August 2009 protest in Pretoria when about a thousand soldiers marched on the Union Buildings seeking, among others, better accommodation and living facilities as well as an increase in salary.
Since the march some soldiers have heeded calls by the then SANDF Chief General Godfrey Ngwenya and returned to their bases while others waited for a recall instruction from Shoke in 2012 before returning to duty.
Each of the more than five hundred soldiers still on special leave will be informed which unit and/or base to report to in due course, Shoke told the May media briefing. He added the soldiers still not back at work would “not necessarily” return to their home bases or units.
Asked what would happen to soldiers who did not respond to the latest recall, Brigadier General Xolani Mabanga, Director: Defence Corporate Communication, said: “Action will be informed by the terms and conditions as provided in the Defence Act of 2002 and other applicable policy documents”.
Sandu (SA National Defence Union) last week said some of the soldiers on special leave had told the union contact had been made with them by military authorities to check on the correctness of home address details.
As of last Thursday no communication advising of dates to report and bases to report to had been received by Sandu members.
Estimates are that the SANDF have paid around R6 million a month in salaries for 80 months for soldiers not on duty.